Saturday, September 26, 2015

The shape of Sunday worship

Our local church is a hexagonal shape with flat floor, carpet and chairs. It lends itself to all kinds of arrangement for different kinds of services.

With more or less movable furniture this imaginative building was designed to reflect a whole lot of different ways of being church. For instance, it could be a "people" kind of church where worshippers could see a little more than the backs of people's heads in front of them. Or perhaps a "participatory" kind of church where contributions could be made and seen and heard from some other place than up front, concert style. Or maybe a "gathered" church where the congregation could be seated around the (hexagonal!) communion table for the fellowship meal. The possibilities are limited only by our imagination.

And there's the problem.  In more than two decades of occasional visits and eighteen months of fairly regular attendance I have never seen it arranged in any other manner than what I would call "railway carriage" style. Rows and rows of chairs, all facing the same way towards a table that is always against the same wall.

Somewhere, sometime, a vision for this sanctuary was lost. And now, just to make absolutely sure of our fundamentalist understanding of worship and its setting, I have just found on the wall a diagram showing us exactly how the chairs should be rigidly laid out to marks in the carpet! I suppose some committee put a lot of work into this to save things being a little untidy on Sunday mornings.

I'd have preferred a bit more untidy and a lot less rigidity...

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